Donn Branstrator

Donn Branstrator
Professional Title



  • B.A., 1987, Lawrence University
  • Ph.D., 1993, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


My research program seeks to understand the structure and function of freshwater food webs and how non-native species influence ecological processes. My students work primarily with crustacean zooplankton and use a variety of approaches including paleolimnology, laboratory and field experiments, and field monitoring in inland lakes and the Laurentian Great Lakes. Many of our questions are motivated by finding solutions to the management of aquatic invasive species. Bythotrephes (aka, spiny water flea) has been a model organism for my research program.


I teach courses at the undergraduate level (General Ecology, Lake Ecology, Communication in Biology) and graduate level (Limnology, Professional Ethics).

Recent Publications

  • Rantala, HM, DK Branstrator, JK Hirsch, TS Jones, and G Montz. 2022. Simultaneous invasion decouples zebra mussels and water clarity. Communications Biology 5:1405.
  • Branstrator, DK, and JT Lehman. 2022. Ecosystem Function Measurement, Aquatic and Marine Communities. In Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, Third Edition. Elsevier.
  • Branstrator, DK. 2022. Origins of Types of Lake Basins. In T Mehner and K Tockner [Eds], Encyclopedia of Inland Waters, Second Edition. Elsevier.
  • Austin, JA, TR Hrabik, and DK Branstrator. 2022. An abrupt decline in springtime zooplankton diel vertical migration due to a shift in stratification regime. Journal of Great Lakes Research 48: 837-842.
  • Branstrator, DK, JD Dumke, VJ Brady, and HA Wellard Kelly. 2021. Lines snag spines! A field test of recreational angling gear ensnarement of Bythotrephes. Lake and Reservoir Management 37: 391-405.
  • DeWeese, NE, EJ Favot, DK Branstrator, ED Reavie, JP Smol, DR Engstrom, HM Rantala, SP Schottler, and AM Paterson. 2021. Early presence of Bythotrephes cederströmii (Cladocera: Cercopagidae) in lake sediments in North America: evidence or artifact? Journal of Paleolimnology 66: 389-405.

Recent & Current Graduate Students

  • Katherine Bruesewitz (MS in Water Resources Science)
  • Megan Corum, (MS in Water Resources Science)
  • Nichole DeWeese (MS in Water Resources Science). ‘Characterizing spiny water flea impacts in Lake Mille Lacs and Lake Kabetogama using sediment records.’